January 16, 2021

We Were Promised Jetpacks – These Four Walls – FC Records

By Kristi Kates | Aug. 10, 2019

WWPJ fans will find a lot to like about this set, a special expanded anniversary edition of the band’s debut album, which is celebrating 10 years this year. The new version includes all of the original material, plus eight previously released tunes, one of which is the rarely heard demo version of the band’s first real hit, “Quiet Little Voices.” Vinyl fans can snag the album in an equally special double-LP gatefold with gold-colored vinyl; this is the perfect set to listen to while you prep to see WWPJ on tour this summer. ***

James TW – Chapters – Island
The one downfall of this album that’s evident from the start is one that’s likely not the fault of the artist: the production. Over-burnished to within an inch of its glossy life, this set could’ve benefitted from a little studio restraint, that’s for sure. But that said, it says a lot for James’ songwriting that the tunes themselves still stand out. There are plenty of radio-friendly singles here, but it’s the ones that really seem to dig into the singer’s emotions that stand out: “If I Didn’t Tell You,” with its evident heartache, and “Big Picture,” with its clear depiction of doubt being just two. ** ½

Thom Yorke – Anima – XL Recordingss
Penned by Yorke and produced by longtime collaborator Nigel Godrich, the Radiohead frontman’s latest solo effort, nine tracks in all, is even more experimental (and far less radio-friendly) than Radiohead’s releases. This set in particular is spare in instrumentation and production. Yet, it’s also a nightclub-friendlier effort, with much of the focus on tracks like “Traffic” and “Twist” that find Yorke threading his vocals through the beats, with most instrumental sounds either generated by or run through computers. Standouts include the unexpectedly pretty “Dawn Chorus,” featuring a filtered monologue, and “Runwayaway,” with audacious loops. *** ½

Lighthouse Family – Blue Sky in Your Head – Polydor
After a whopping 18 years away from any album releases, the British duo (Tunde Baiyewu and Paul Tucker, both of Newcastle) are back with this two-disc set, with the first disc presenting new music, and the second featuring remastered versions of some of their classic hits. The band is also back with their original mid-’90s label (Polydor), all the better to promote tunes like the pensive soul of “Live Again,” the anthemic, romantic heft of “Waterloo Street,” and the richly arranged and thoughtful title track. ***


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